[This was my first interview, cool huh? My we’ve come a long way, and Tim Marquitz was a good sport to be my Guinea Pig.]
I’m a fan of Tim’s Demon Squad series and his third in series, At the Gates, is to be released tomorrow, Dec 1st. Coincidentally, my first novel, The Wrong Way Down, will be sitting on the virtual bookshelf right next to his. Having the opportunity to interview an author as vividly imaginative as Tim Marquitz has been a real honor.
JE: Who were your early author influences? What have you read that convinced you to seek writing your own story?
TM: There have been a ton of authors who’ve influenced my writing, from Michael Moorcock to Anne McCaffrey and Stephen King, but I’d have to say Clive Barker was the most influential in making me want to write. His dark perversity wrapped up in such gorgeous prose was something I initially wanted to emulate, but lacked the poetry to properly pay tribute to.
Jim Butcher is a more recent influence. He is the most responsible for my creation of the Demon Squad series. He showed me with the Dresden Files that you can write a great, emotionally impactful story without having to prettify the language.
JE: You’ve got a few other books out, how many is the total count, including your latest, At the Gates? On the topic of your other works, what is the Sepulchral Earth series about?
TM: As of December, when the third book in the Demon Squad series comes out from Damnation Books, I’ll have seven releases.
Sepulchral Earth is my attempt at writing in the zombie genre while trying to create my own little niche. The story focuses on a necromancer, Harlan, who has lost his family to the undead. He wants nothing more than to free their spirits so they can rest in peace. Along the way, Harlan encounters the undead in all their forms and worst still, the living, most of whom want nothing more than to see Harlan dead.
JE: How many books do you foresee in telling the Demon Squad series?
TM: I’ll write the Demon Squad books until I feel I’ve jumped the shark or they become boring to me. I like the idea of a flagship series that I can keep going back to, and the DS world is so wide open that I can’t picture myself running out of fresh ideas for books.
JE: One of the things that drew me to reading Armageddon Bound was that on the Damnation Books Author Page it said you have a background in grave-digging. That is a unique job, how much did it contribute to your dark, yet very funny sense of humor?
TM: Grave digging has certainly enhanced my descriptive skills when it comes to the smell and sight of dead bodies. As for my sense of humor, I’m not sure it did much. I was already a twisted, sarcastic asshole before I started digging graves. If anything, it may have added to my irreverent attitude toward death. It’s hard to worry too much about it when you see it so often it becomes mundane.
JE: What inspired such a grim tale of modern day wizards, angels and demons?
TM: Short answer, the Dresden Files. After reading Jim’s books, it really inspired me to be more honest with my skillset and leanings. As much as I love Clive Barker’s writing, I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to match his grace when it comes to storytelling. Jim showed me you can write great stories without having to dress the language up in a tux.
Once I had the framework for what I wanted to do, the story that would become the Demon Squad just spilled out of me.
JE: Frank is a very complex character, being half-angel, half-devil, he has shown a great display of paradox. It is one Freudian conundrum. What spurned the idea to tell this tale from the twisted and very-split perspective of Frank Trigg?
TM: Frank is actually half-devil, half-human. Scarlett is the mix of both angel and demon. As for the enigma that is Frank, he is definitely a spawn of the weird, perversely violent, and extravagant world he was raised in. He just fit the role.
I wanted a character that had the inside track to what was going on, but I needed a flawed character who was still some measure of an outcast. The role didn’t call for a character who was a super badass, but one who would be challenged by the changes in the world. I very much wanted a Died Hard (Bruce Willis) type MC who won through on heart more than he ever did on skill. There’s a primitive satisfaction in seeing the underdog rise up against the odds and succeed.
JE: You really did your homework on religion to put this series together. Is religion a lifestyle for you, or is it a hobby? Or both, maybe neither…
TM: Neither really. I did some research as to the relationships of certain angels to one another, and studied some of the Christian mythos, but I didn’t do much else. I wanted a framework people could grasp immediately, but I also wanted enough freedom to smudge the lines. Growing up in today’s world, you can’t help but have a passing familiarity with the world I’m working in, regardless of your religious background. That was what I was counting on when I did my world building.
JE: What scenes have you written that you are very proud of? Which ones were the hardest to get right?
TM: I’m proud of everything I’ve written, to a degree. The worst, and also the best, part of being a writer is that I grow with every story I tell. While I can find something I like in every story I tell, each new piece brings with it new challenges and new opportunities to learn, as well as the growth from the last piece. As such, every new story I write is the best in my eyes.
I think the hardest stories to write are the ones where I step away from my experiences. When I create a character whose experience is different from mine, I have to dig deeper to flesh that character out and make it real. It’s a challenge where I’m stuck relying on the media I’ve absorbed in my life or on the social consciousness of the world.
JE: Thanks Tim, this interview was fun. Within the next couple months, (mid-January to early February) I plan to read Greg Chapman’s The Noctuary, a tale of a tormented writer and his dark muse. Then I’ll see if he wants to do an interview. (It is far easier to interview after I’m familiar with the author’s work.)